Fantasy Baseball Tiers: OF Rankings, Draft Strategy, Sleepers

At a certain point when looking over the 2020 fantasy baseball OF rankings, your eyes start to glaze over. Is there really a difference between the No. 34 outfielder and No. 54…or even No. 73, for that matter? When players produce in similar ways, it can be difficult to group them into tiers, especially at a position with so many options. But there are always subtle differences, be it age, injury history, or upside in a certain category, and noting these differences on your cheat sheet can go a long way when hunting for sleepers or putting together a draft strategy. 

Aside from the top tier, our OF tiers cast a pretty wide net. It’s not because we’re lazy (well, not entirely); it’s because there are so many similar players in terms of production and upside. We all know there will be surprise breakouts and disappointments every season, and with so many OFs available, we don’t want owners to overdraft a guy in a higher tier when the difference between him and someone else is razor thin. At certain points, we have to make those discernments, and we’ll do our best below to explain why. 

2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings:
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Reliever | Top 300

Generally speaking, most fantasy owners don’t have a set draft startegy when it comes to OF, especially if they play in just a three-OF league. If your league starts five OFs, the position is more of a priority, but even then, you’re just looking for good values as they come to you in the draft. Most owners want some steals from at least one of their OFs, but if you load up on SBs in your infield, you can’t necessarily need anyone who will swipe more than 15 bags. Regardless, diversifying your OF is a good way to balance your team and fill in the category cracks. 

That’s why our sub-tiers are really more important than the tiers themselves. Finding players who are more of a help in a particular category, be it steals, average, or homers, is how you adjust quickly and have a successful draft. As such, it’s important to note that our sub-tiers are based on the type of production a player offers. Just because a player is in, say, Tier 3C doesn’t mean he’s worse than a player in Tier 3A — it just means he typically produces more or less in a specific category. 

It should also be noted that our OF rankings are based on the idea that a player is solely eligible at outfield. Players eligible at other positions may be ranked higher in our overall rankings. 

Who are the best fantasy baseball OFs?

Eligibility based on Yahoo default settings
* = Player not eligible at that position on draft day but expected to play there during the season

All seven of our Tier-1 OFs are first-round worthy. There’s a strong case to be made for the players in Tier 1A to be the first three picks in the draft, as all hit for average, hit for power, and can steal 30-plus bases. Mookie Betts will probably steal the fewest bases among this group, but we know what kind of overall upside he has. 

The guys in Tier 1B can steal bases, too, but they project to top out around 15 (if they even get that many). These are still bona fide superstars, though, with each capable of hitting .300 with 45 HRs. Juan Soto hasn’t done either yet, but you know it’s in him. 

We put J.D. Martinez in his own sub-tier because he doesn’t steal bases, but he can mash with the best of them and post an average well over .300, which is a rare combination at any position. 

Starting your draft with any of these players puts you in a great spot. If you take Martinez, you’ll probably want to look for some steals in the second or third round, but you will have plenty of time to fill in that gap. 

Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
Christian Yelich, Brewers
Mookie Betts, Dodgers

Mike Trout, Angels
Cody Bellinger, Dodgers (also eligible at 1B)
Juan Soto, Nationals

J.D. Martinez, Red Sox

MORE FANTASY BASEBALL: 2020 Auction Values

2020 Fantasy Baseball Tiers: Tier-2 OFs

Even a quick glance at our Tier-2 OFs might make you question some things. Guys like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have more power upside than Nicholas Castellanos and Kris Bryant, yet they’re in the same sub-tier, and Charlie Blackmon stole just two bases last year and hit 40 points higher than Bryce Harper, but they’re also in the same sub-tier. 

Look, if we really wanted to pick nits, we’d probably have about six sub-tiers in each tier, but when you’re drafting these players (as early as the second round, but likely in Rounds 3-6), you’re thinking in general terms: Who hits more homers? Who steals a few bases to go with their power? Who steals a lot of bases and has moderate power? 

Tier 2A features power hitters, and while some will hit more than others, these are all 30-plus HR guys who can drive in 100 runs and hit around .280. Stanton is probably going to have the lowest average of the group (if he ever gets on the field), but most of these guys will hit somewhere between .275-.300. 

Tier 2B features 30-HR hitters who can also steal 10-20 bases. As we noted, Blackmon stopped running last year, which could easily happen again this year, but he stole at least 12 bases in five straight seasons before, so double-digits is within reach. 

Tier 2C features a pair of players who can hit 20 HRs and steal 30-plus bases. It’s a bit of a moot point to include Villar here, as he will likely be slotted into an infield spot by whoever drafts him (and he won’t be OF-eligible during your draft), but he’s a difference-maker in SBs. 

Because virtually every first-round pick (with the exception of SPs and possibly Trea Turner) hits homers, the guys in Tier 2A likely won’t be “targeted”, per se. Rather, they’ll be drafted highly when they present fair value. The guys in the other sub-tiers might be specific targets because fantasy owners are always hunting for SBs. That might cause them to go earlier than expected.

There’s nothing wrong with reaching for one of them, but it’s important to realize that someone like Harper or Meadows isn’t going to swing a category for you. Likewise, it’s important to remember that you’re giving up some HRs and RBIs with Villar and maybe even Marte, so plan accordingly with your other picks. 

George Springer, Astros
Aaron Judge, Yankees
Yordan Alvarez, Astros
Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees
Eloy Jimenez, White Sox
Kris Bryant, Cubs (3B)
Nicholas Castellanos, Reds

Bryce Harper, Phillies
Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
Austin Meadows, Rays

Starling Marte, D-backs
Jonathan Villar*, Marlins (2B, SS)

2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers:
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfielder | Starter | Each team

2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Tier-3 OFS

Once again we have a big tier, and most of the guys in Tier 3 aren’t that much different than those in Tier 2. This is where that “razor thin” differentiation comes in. 

Tier 3A features guys who can hit 20-25 HRs with good averages and 10-20 stolen bases. Andrew Benintendi has had declining HR totals the past two seasons, so projecting him to get to 20-plus might be a bit of a stretch, but he’s hit 20 before, and at 25, he should be coming into his prime. The averages are what really separate these guys and make them worthy of sharing the same tier as some of the other players who hit significantly more homers or steal more bases. 

The guys in Tier 3C are pretty similar, though they have higher SB upside. All will still likely hit 20-plus HRs with regular playing time, but batting average could be mediocre for all except Whit Merrifield. Most fantasy owners won’t care about the .265 averages or relatively mediocre RBI totals since they’re getting legit 20/20 or 20/30 threats, and we don’t blame them. 

Tier 3B is your classic slugger tier. The averages don’t figure to be great in this tier (though one or two could surprise like Trey Mancini did last year), but there’s 40-homer potential from most of these players. Bump that up to 50-HR potential for Jorge Soler and Joey Gallo. If you invested in a Trea Turner-type early, targeting one of these mashers in the seventh round makes sense. 

The reliability of players starts to drop off after this tier, so you probably want at least two or three OFs from the first three tiers, depending on how many you start. You can live with only one, but you pretty much know what you’re getting from these guys barring injury. 

Ketel Marte, D-backs (2B, SS)
Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
Ramon Laureano, A’s

Jorge Soler, Royals
Franmil Reyes, Indians
Kyle Schwarber, Cubs
Joey Gallo, Rangers
Marcell Ozuna, Braves
Trey Mancini, Orioles (1B)
Michael Conforto, Mets
Willie Calhoun, Rangers
Justin Upton, Angels

Whit Merrifield, Royals (2B)
Oscar Mercado, Indians
Victor Robles, Nationals
Luis Robert, White Sox
Tommy Pham, Padres
Kyle Tucker, Astros

Fantasy Baseball Tiers: Tier-4 OFs

When it’s time to start drafting Tier-4 OFs (early-middle rounds), it’s all about the categories. It’s possible someone will fall too far and be too good of a value to pass up, but for the most part, you’re thinking about balancing your team. 

If you need 30-HR upside and a few SBs, go for the guys in Tier 4A. If you need a good average and 20-plus HRs, go for Tier 4B. If you need steals, Tier 4C is for you. And if you need someone with 20/20 upside, look no further than Tier 4D.

Some of these players have higher upsides than others. For instance, Aristides Aquino could mash 40-plus HRs, but playing time concerns have him down a tier from where he could be. Andrew McCutchen won’t hit as many homers, but he has a good amount of overall upside when he’s on the field. 

Byron Buxton and Mallex Smith aren’t exactly the same type of player. Buxton could hit around 20 HRs and provide more RBIs, but Smith figures to steal around 10 more bases. Still, both qualify as “steals guys”. 

Tier 4D is likely the one most people will target, though with all but one player eligible at an infield position, it’s likely most will be drafted earlier and won’t be used as OFs by their owners. 

All the players in these sub-tiers have value and upside, and unless you’re desperate for steals or you think a sleeper like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. or Nick Senzel is going to break out this year, you don’t need to reach for them. Look for value and fill in as you go. 

Eddie Rosario, Twins
Max Kepler, Twins
Aristides Aquino, Reds
Brandon Lowe, Rays (1B, 2B)
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Blue Jays (2B)
Andrew McCutchen, Phillies
Avisail Garcia, Brewers

Michael Brantley, Astros
​David Dahl, Rockies
Jeff McNeil, Mets (2B, 3B)
Bryan Reynolds, Pirates

Byron Buxton, Twins
Mallex Smith, Mariners

Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays (2B)
Scott Kingery, Phillies (2B, 3B, SS)
Danny Santana, Rangers (1B, 2B, 3B, SS)
​Tommy Edman, Cardinals (2B, 3B)
Wil Myers, Padres (1B)
Nick Senzel, Reds

Fantasy Baseball OF Rankings: Tier 5

We could have easily put many of our Tier-5 OFs into Tier 4, but for whatever reason, most have a few more question marks. Tier 5A features guys who can hit 20-plus HRs with around 10 SBs. Tier 5B has a pair of players who will hit 10-15 HRs and steal around 20 SBs (with good averages and runs scored, too). Tier 5C is for middling-average power hitters, though as noted with Tier 3B, we could see some surprise averages (like J.D. Davis’s last season). Tier 5D is one of the few low-power speedsters left in the league. 

There will probably be a few big seasons from guys in this tier. Maybe Kole Calhoun hits 40 HRs; maybe Ian Happ gets everyday at-bats and goes 30/15; maybe Alex Verdugo is an RBI machine in Boston’s stacked lineup once healthy. Either way, you’re probably not going to be excited about any of these guys, but they make for great backups/fourth or fifth OFs in the late-middle or late rounds. None are worth targeting or reaching for unless you really need power or steals. 

Ian Happ, Cubs (2B, 3B)
Gregory Polanco, Pirates
Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers
Ryan Braun, Brewers (1B*)

Lorenzo Cain, Brewers
Adam Eaton, Nationals

Randal Grichuck, Blue Jays
Hunter Renfroe, Rays
Kole Calhoun, D-backs
J.D. Davis, Mets (3B)
Joc Pederson, Dodgers (1B)
David Peralta, D-backs
Mark Canha, A’s (1B)
Hunter Dozier, Royals (1B, 3B)
Brian Anderson, Marlins (3B)
Alex Verdugo, Red Sox

Jarrod Dyson, Pirates

Fantasy Baseball Sleepers, Deep Sleepers, and Veterans: Tier-6 OFs

Depending how deep your league is, you’re going to want to stash at least one of the young sleepers from Tier 6. Someone like Trent Grisham, Jo Adell, Austin Hays, or Tyler O’Neill could break out at some point this season. Of course, like many of the others in this tier, they could also never get regular at-bats and do next to nothing. 

There are some dependable players here, like Brett Gardner, Nomar Mazara, and a few others. Unfortunately, the ceilings for those players are limited, so many fantasy owners will skip over them in the quest to find this year’s big breakout OF. That’s makes sense, but if you need a little power and speed, don’t be afraid to grab a veteran from Tier 6A. And if you just need some pop, don’t ignore a sure 20 HRs from someone in Tier 6B. 

Brett Gardner, Yankees
Trent Grisham, Padres
Harrison Bader, Cardinals
Jurickson Profar, Padres (2B)
Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox
A.J. Pollock, Dodgers
Austin Hays, Orioles
Kevin Kiermaier, Rays
Domingo Santana, Indians
Brandon Nimmo, Mets
Jake Fraley, Mariners
Jake Bauers, Indians (1B)
Kevin Pillar, Red Sox
Jordan Luplow, Indians
Ender Inciarte, Braves

Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays
Nomar Mazara, White Sox
Jo Adell, Angels
Eric Thames, Nationals (1B)
Yoshi Tsutsugo, Rays (3B)
Austin Riley, Braves (3B*)
Tyler O’Neill, Cardinals
Mike Yastrzemski, Giants
Anthony Santander, Orioles
Stephen Piscotty, A’s
Corey Dickerson, Marlins
Dominic Smith, Mets (1B)
Garrett Cooper, Marlins (1B)
Jesse Winker, Reds
Jose Martinez, Rays

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